The Past, Present and Future.

What Happened?


601511_10151225219561882_254646203_n2001. I was 15 years old and proudly held the job of delivering newspapers around my neighborhood. In a few months, I had managed to save $200 in cash! It was the peak of my net worth and I felt like I could buy or do anything I wanted. My closest friends from high school came over to my house and before they left I realized three of my most valuable possessions were missing: the money, my bb gun and Grand Theft Auto CD. My heart was broken. I knew that one of them had stolen from me. I didn’t find out who the culprit was until several years later when I randomly called my closest friend from the group asked him if he knew anything about that night. To my shock and dismay, he admitted that everyone there had conspired against me and was involved in the theft. Even though it happened 6 years prior, I was crushed and stopped speaking to him until just recently. The theme of being wronged by friends and co-workers has been a reoccurring one, but this was the first experience I remember of feeling like the world was against me. If I couldn’t trust the people I considered friends, who could I trust?


In 2007, I was in the very early stages of my poker career. had me ranked as the number one online MTT player in the world and I was admired and respected by the majority of my peers. Here I was, a 21 year old kid from a low-middle income family, who randomly stumbled upon an unnatural talent that had the potential to change my life forever. I was on top of the world and nothing could bring me down. A couple months after I was cheated out of my entire net worth in a hotel poker game; I made another poor decision. I purchased the equity of a friend deep in a tournament and took over the decision making process. I won the tournament but shortly thereafter neither my friend, nor I, were able to login to our accounts. After an investigation, Full Tilt Poker concluded the appropriate punishment for our misconduct was to ban us from playing on the site and confiscate the winnings. What happened subsequently, was the harshest punishment of all: The relentless torment and ostracism by a community that I was once loved by. It was a tremendous blow to an ego that I was very much attached to and caused me to experience fluctuating emotions of sadness, depression, anger and resentment. What made this decision so bad was not the actual incident itself, but how I chose to deal with it after the fact. I would constantly go back and forth between one extreme and another of obsessing over what people thought of me to not caring at all. I simply could not get over it. Awkward stares, quiet whispers and the subtle vibe I got from people served as a constant reminder of the the person I was expected to be. I felt wronged, cheated and unfairly punished. I blamed everything and everyone but myself and being emotionally overwhelmed caused me to become weak and pathetic. I was in so much pain and just wanted the nightmare to end.


What Had I Become?


“Your reputation is what you’re perceived to be, your character is what you are.” – John Wooden.


For a long time my reputation was perfectly aligned with my character. Instead of fighting to be who I knew I was, I started believing I was the person I was accused of being. Soon, I became him. There’s no other way to put it, I caved in under pressure. I wasn’t someone I respected and lacking self respect is ultimate pain. Instead of taking full responsibility for my situation, I decided that being a victim was easier. And being a victim had it’s rewards; people felt sorry for me, I received validation and most importantly, I got to be right!
Assigning blame and making excuses is what kept me in victim mode. I didn’t have to do anything different because it’s not about me; it’s about someone or something else. I was simply the recipient. But being the victim comes with a price; I was no longer responsible and therefore eliminated the ability to use my imagination, resourcefulness and determination to overcome adversity. Once I became aware, I realized that I had complete control over my thoughts and state of mind. In reality, the most painful things that happened to me weren’t the events themselves, but how I reacted to them. I allowed outside circumstances to hijack my internal state of being.


Several incidents of being robbed, cheated and wronged had made me cynical, cold, distant and emotionally disconnected. The thought of people accusing me of exactly what I had been a victim to was unbearable. Poor me, no one understands, no one cares, I can’t trust anyone. In fact, whenever I chose to trust someone, subconsciously I wanted them to disappoint me so I could reinforce my beliefs that no one could be trusted! I wasn’t happy about the person I became. I thought I had self-respect but upon further self-evaluation, I realized I didn’t. Self-respect can’t exist or prosper within someone who lacks integrity. Trying to convince people I was honest was more important to me than actually being honest. I broke my word to myself and others regularly. Poker didn’t make me this way, my parents didn’t make me this way, circumstances didn’t make me this way, I made myself this way and lacked the tools necessary to realize and interrupt a detrimental pattern of thought. I allowed self pity, regret and the feeling that I blew the one opportunity I had to run my life. I felt unworthy and gave up on my dreams and visions.


My Commitment


I’ve finally allowed myself to experience the gift of forgiveness. Being able to forgive others and more importantly myself has allowed me to open my heart and detach myself from the past. I cannot change the past and dwelling on the mistakes I’ve made has caused nothing but pain and suffering. I’m committed to using my experiences to redefine my values and strengthen my character. I’ve woken up, and I’m ready to be the hero in my own movie. Having integrity, being honorable, loving and passionate is no longer a struggle, it’s a way of life and a state of being.


I refuse to accept that because of my past I am condemned to the life-long sentence of having no credibility and no opinion on what’s right and wrong. My past is merely a chapter in the book of my life, one whose only purpose is to gloss over and read through to learn from the highlights and key points. As long as I’m breathing, I have the power to change everything at any given moment. What was once hurtful has become empowering. I used to have a host of defense mechanisms I implemented to discredit people’s opinions of me. I no longer take things personally. I view feedback as exactly what it is, how I show up to this person. It’s neither true nor false, it’s simply invaluable knowledge of someone’s perception of me based on their experience. I can use this information as an objective life report card of how I’m showing up to people and utilize it as a tool to insure I’m being honest with myself. This isn’t saying that I will let peoples feedback change my personality to cater to their liking, but rather It’s committing to actually listen instead of simply not talk and prepare a response. True listening is when one refrains from allowing brain chatter, interpretation and judgement get in the way and feel what the other person is saying instead of just hear it. This will allow me to experience a new level of empathy and understanding and in turn become a better person.


I don’t really believe in New Years resolutions but since I’m finishing this blog so close to the new year, I will have a go. My mom often reminds me of a story from my childhood where she bought me an ice cream cone. As soon as I left Baskin Robbins, the ice cream fell out of the cone and my response was, “Oh well, at least I still have my ice cream cone!” May I maintain the positivity, love and acceptance of the child I once was, no matter the obstacle.


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Comments (32)

  1. J December 30, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Solid blog Miz man, proud of you and your growth


  2. Barxx1 December 30, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Never think the process is complete, you’re on a life-long journey. Honesty with yourself is always the first step. Follow you because of what Daniel Negraneau said about you. Now I see what he means. More blogs please, not just about your life journey but about POKER!!


  3. Pievegas December 30, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Spot on Sorel. Like a sword through the heart. I get it. Now to apply it. Hope others will do so as well. Great read sir.


  4. Brian December 30, 2012 at 11:51 am

    I enjoyed reading this. I am glad to see you growing, maturing, and dealing with these kind of problems. Just remember that change is a process, it’s not instantaneous. I miss you and hope everything’s well.




  5. bvhoff December 30, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    While I was reading this I had a daydream that I was a counselor and that I was reading other counselors’ blogs I thought, in my daydream, “Whoever sees Sorel is lucky. He’s one of the really good counselors. We’ve got a really good profession”


  6. Stuart December 30, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Nice post. Forgiving yourself and learning from your mistakes are key steps to growth in this long journey we’re all on. Rooting for you.


  7. ceegee December 30, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Nice post. A lot rings true for a lot of people out there about developing defense mechanisms and the mind set of dealing with past experiences. Self inflection is a great first step to changing developed habits and traits. The hardest part now that you realize all of this is keeping with it, and not falling off track.


  8. Mama-G December 30, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Sorel, Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. You speak from your heart and we can ALL learn something from your experience. You show up to me as courageous, authentic and a winner. I am so very proud of you, and proud to call you a friend.


  9. Bagel December 31, 2012 at 3:56 am

    Sorel, very proud of you! This was written extremely well and i thoroughly enjoyed reading every word. Its inspiring and powerful to readers to see the real and vulnerable Sorel. As you know i am a Mizzifan and always wish the best for you. Have a great New Years and I will see you soon.


  10. Rik December 31, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Very good read and so so true. In my top 5 of pokerblogs 2012, and I’ve been reading a lot!

    All the best and have a great year!


  11. mike December 31, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Great mindset to start off the new year:)


  12. @AsianSpa December 31, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Thanks for #TruthSpeaking u are welcome to join other #TruthSpeakers over on #TeamSpa


  13. mark December 31, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Sorel.. its a awesome thing to admit you are wrong… and asking forgiveness is all that people want… We root for the underdog to succeed….congrats…mark


  14. Mike December 31, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Don’t know you, but read your post. I am a “bit” older than you and have experienced much in life including being robbed and wronged in other ways. The next time you are by a flower garden, pick one up and smell it and thank the good lord for all the gifts you do have which have allowed you to enjoy the life you do have.

    Go forward young man, have fun, enjoy your life and when you are wronged do not dwell on it, but give thanks for what you do have. If you do that you will find that a good nights rest is more important than many other things in life.


  15. charles December 31, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    wow I was blown away when I read this blog amazing growth I wish you the best of luck in the new year


  16. Jason December 31, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Enjoyed your post, all the best in your endeavour.


  17. Bob Brady December 31, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Great blog, it is a great abilty to be able to find that out at such a early age. I was accused of a poor business deal 20+ years ago and it haunted me for 10 years, only to find out that no one really cared except for the one that screwed me on the deal.
    Learn early and you will prosper, all you have is your reputation. always be a person of your word and you will live a full enjoyable life.
    Best of luck, I’ll see you at some torney some day.


  18. Heather December 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Going into the New Year this is a fabulous read. Faced with the ugly realities of daily life it is necessary to play the game with discipline,humor and an open mind. Keep up the good work and one day when you reflect back you will only be stronger.
    Well Wishes for 2013.


  19. Tabby January 1, 2013 at 5:13 am

    Inspiring hugz. Keep up the hard work and hold your head high x


  20. Tony January 1, 2013 at 8:43 am

    While I sympathize with your situation and can congratulate you for evolving as a person, the one question I always have with people who have cheated in the past is what would happen if you didn’t get caught? It’s easy to say after the fact but we may not be reading the blog above if you were allowed to continue your cheating ways.


  21. Eric January 1, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Life is about second chances. Good luck this year sir.


  22. mick dundee January 1, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    words are easy actions are hard.

    How many time have you actually cheated or planned to cheat. The truth will set you free.


  23. Jeff January 1, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Great read Sorel.

    I’m no poker pro but did judge you on what had happened, most likely too harshly.
    I would see you on TV and think how can this guy show his face, smile and laugh like nothing was wrong.
    This blog post made me think of people who get to the point you were at but unfortunately can’t overcome the pain and depression and give up, possibly even ending their life.
    I can’t imagine how bad you were hurting but hope you are able to continue down the new path you have laid out with success and happiness.


  24. Nolan Dalla January 1, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    This is a refreshing perspective. Unfortunately poker is filled with one dimensional self-centered people. When I read something like this it renews my hope for the future.


  25. Mike January 1, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    When my brother was 22, he was strung out on drugs (crack cocaine). A dope dealer sold him fake stuff, so he went back with a gun to get his money back. The resulting armed robbery charge plus a few other things he had in his past (an assault and a couple drug charges) had the prosecutor seeking 25 years to life as an armed career criminal. What he was was a tragic addict, the judge saw that, gave him 2 years with a stern warning that anything else, he’s gone for the duration (anyone who says “ONLY 2 YEARS IN PRISON? THAT’S NOTHING!” has no fucking idea what two years in prison is like)

    He got out, straightened his shit up and is now operates an electrical service company, five employees, makes A LOT of money… If it were up to that prosecutor, he’d still be in prison to this day.

    Occasionally, there are jobs he can’t take because of his record. Once in a while, a customer googles his name, sees his old record in ancient newspaper reports and goes with someone else.

    Our past is a part of who we are. We can’t change it, others will judge us by it. The silver lining is that people who pass hasty judgements based on fragments of information are almost always idiots, so its best to filter them out of our lives anyway.

    There’s a whole world of people out there willing to look at the big picture, as it pertains to a person. Ignore those who can’t.


  26. Will January 1, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    yeah don’t actually confess to what you did wrong, people you wronged, don’t address how you’ll make it up to them, just write yet another zero substance essay using your command of English to con more retards, even negreanu. who cares that you’re probably the 2nd most prolific cheat in the history of online poker


  27. Retired US Navy Master Chief January 3, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    I’ve watched through threads, posts, forums, etc… your ups and downs in Poker. I was truely facinated how a young man could be so good playing online poker.

    I have seen literally thousands of young men and women come into the Military and ‘Grow Up’ both personally and professionally in just a matter of a few years. I am and have been optomistic on our ‘younger generation’ each and everyday.

    Thank you for providing this blog and I wish you the very best.


  28. Lisa January 5, 2013 at 5:15 am

    I dont think this is well written at all?
    I can’t believe people are saying this is a great read…. I’m shaking my head…. its terrible writtng…. a complete self indulgence… you dont say sorry…you dont address any of your past with any clarity or honesty, you speak a lot about being wronged…. poor Sorel…

    “i’m going to be the hero in my own movie”…. I seriously feel ill reading this and am dismayed that certian well known poker pro’s who I thought where intelligent are patting you on the back for this effort? You want people to feel sorry for you ….poor Sorel… Well I’m sure sorry, as this an inssult to anyone with any intellegence.

    I will be so dismayed if the poker community accepts this as an acceptable apoligy and you get to be forgiven….

    Those who seek to support you would help you more by encouraging you to own it, in an open and honest way…

    I can hear viloins playing……”I still have the ice cream cone ….” Sounds like a soap opera….. help me Rhonda…help, help me Rhonda …

    You dont deal with the things you have done wrong by discussing them openly…. I belive in giving people a fair go and a second chance…but you need to be more honest, so far you are still opting out.

    Good luck, but I dont belive your sorry that you cheated in competition poker in order to boost your standing and bankroll…. this blog certainly does not sugust this at all.
    I think your sorry you got caught and have been treated with little respect by the poker community as a result.
    I think you still believe its eveyone else who has wronged you????

    Keep working on it Sorel… you have a way to go with this…


  29. Jeff Blackwell December 29, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    Real simple. I just want to know what might be the best way to learn POKER or better yet Texas Hold Em’? Maybe you or someone could recommend a software program? Thanks.


  30. Orpes Top Ten – Sorel Mizzi | PokerRam February 20, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    […] resentment. Thankfully, he came out the other side and is back where he belongs. Sorel has written a very honest account of the incident on his blog — worth checking out for the full […]


  31. Dan Heimiller July 8, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Great insights! Everything you mentioned I’ve experienced also. Sad that these insights and morals are rarely taught in public schools. In the US “Freedom” is usually sighted as a reason not to include morals in schools. This is in the country with the largest prison population in the world.


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